Fantasy Football 2017: Breaking Down Mock Draft and Cheatsheet

The return of live football at the beginning of August is an annual tradition kicking fantasy football owners into gear, starting the journey down the path of the draft process in all formats.

Naturally, it’s mock draft and cheatsheet time.

The first week or so of the journey to draft prep is the most difficult. Owners have to accommodate for a reshaped league landscape because of new faces in new places thanks to the draft and free agency. Sounds simplified, but add in coaching and schematic changes, not to mention things like a new schedule, projected progression and regression and countless other factors and sure, a cheatsheet doesn’t sound so bad, right? 

Here’s a brief cheatsheet ranking the top 50 players: 

Elsewhere, compiles more than 90 experts from places like Bleacher Report and ESPN to formulate consensus rankings. Fantasy Football Calculator offers average draft position (ADP) lists for various league formats, and ESPN offers comprehensive scoring information from past years.

As for a mock, here’s a look at a projected first round in a standard 12-team league: 

Start with a simple proclamation—any league where Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson isn’t the first pick is a mess. 

Johnson was the only 400-point scorer in fantasy a year ago, turning 293 carries into 1,239 yards and six touchdowns with another 879 yards and four scores through the air on 120 targets.

At 25 and an MVP candidate with aging weapons around him, Johnson’s touches might see an uptick instead of regress, especially with head coach Bruce Arians talking about upping his chances, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss

With that out of the way, Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the natural second in the pecking order when it comes to mock drafts. He dropped 317.4 points last year on comparable usage to Johnson despite only suiting up for 12 games. 

Breakout rookie star Ezekiel Elliott scored more than Bell last year but falls behind in the rankings slightly. Defenses won’t necessarily be caught off guard by him next year, and he’s a little less versatile, seeing only 40 targets through the air compared to the 94 or more for the backs already mentioned. 

With the top three backs off the board, the mock begins to work in some of the league’s top target hogs at wideout, meaning Bell’s teammate Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. 

All three names play with established elite quarterbacks, and owners know what they’re signing up for when drafting them. Brown led all wideouts in scoring last year, turning 155 targets into 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns—and those numbers were less than expected given he missed a game. 

Beckham and Jones fell right about where expected and should again. The former had a slow start to the year but wound up with a career-high 167 targets and 101 catches. The latter, if anything, could have a slight bounce-back campaign after his 129 targets, 1,409 yards and six touchdowns were held back by a toe injury. 

From there, the mock weaves back through both positions. LeSean McCoy should see similar usage with the Buffalo Bills to the approach that saw him tally the fourth-most points among running backs a year ago with more than 1,600 total yards and 14 total scores.

Given the struggles of the offense for the Los Angeles Chargers, Melvin Gordon seeing north of another 250 carries and near the 10 rushing scores from a year ago seems a lock. 

Mike Evans should fall slightly in mocks this year despite a whopping 175 targets a year ago. Some of that attention from Jameis Winston will now go to new arrivals like DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin.

It’s a similar story for A.J. Green with the Cincinnati Bengals. This has nothing to do with the fact he only suited up in 10 games last year, rather his offense has weapons such as rookie John Ross, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Eifert and Joe Mixon out of the backfield. 

Breakout stars from a year ago round out the mock. The Miami Dolphins tried an Arian Foster experiment before fully handing the offense over to Jay Ajayi last year, and he responded with 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns, pushing him north of the 200-point mark. Rest assured he’ll see workhorse status and then some again this year. 

Rookie Jordan Howard also broke out with the Chicago Bears a year ago and should come off the board in the first round. Like Ajayi, the Bears didn’t give Howard much work until a few games into the season, and he rattled off 1,313 yards and six scores on the ground with nearly 300 more yards through the air, reminding some of the old Matt Forte in Chicago days. The passing game around Howard has improved, but it should be a boon as opposed to a leach on his fantasy output. 

As owners can see, some of the old adages still apply. With running backs, usage equals production. Ditto for high-targeted wideouts. Quarterbacks are a no-go for the most part unless a specific draft creates an odd run.

Various strategies can succeed, from two running backs to no backs and beyond, though for standard leagues, simply seeking out value like above and combining it with year-long waiver and trade expertise usually does the trick. 

With resources and cheatsheets continuing to emerge as training camps move forward, owners should once again hit drafts armed to the proverbial teeth with information. 


All scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues, as is points-against info and ownership stats. Statistics courtesy of Average draft position (ADP) courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.


via Bleacher Report – Front Page

August 4, 2017 at 04:34AM


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